Estate and Financial Planning

While estate and financial planning matters can be textbook situations much of the time, there are unique circumstances such as the incarceration of oneself or a loved one that can make the process more challenging, yet still critically important. For situations like these, the soon to be incarcerated need the help of a reputable and experienced estate planning attorney.

Why the Incarcerated Need Estate and Financial Planning

Even those individuals who are about to be incarcerated need estate, personal, and financial planning to protect themselves and/or the family they leave behind. Leaving behind regular daily life for that of one behind bars provides a fair amount of disruption to normal practices, and that requires being proactive in getting things in order before incarceration takes effect.

4 Types of Estate Planning That Should Take Place Before Incarceration

When living in a prison, it provides substantial challenges in protecting one’s own life as well as that of their loved ones, which is why estate planning practices such as the following are key:

  1. Drawing up a will. If the individual that is soon to be incarcerated does not yet have a will in place, it is essential to do. This is particularly important should the individual or their spouse pass away while the convicted is in prison.
  2. Giving consideration to the passing of a spouse outside the prison. Just as getting one’s own affairs in order protects them, it is equally crucial to consider what would happen if the spouse taking care of things at home passes away while the individual is serving their sentence. It requires carful thought before incarceration officially begins because without it, a person’s intended wishes may not be able to be honored.
  3. Preparing healthcare documents. Also on the list should be healthcare planning such as a power of attorney for healthcare. This legal document typically allows another person (in this case probably the spouse, mother, father, brother, sister, or child of the incarcerated) to make a decision regarding the convicted person’s healthcare. This may look like the ability for them to decide whether or not to do a surgery, what hospital to go to, or whether or not to have a medical procedure should the incarcerated suffer an accident, heart attack, or similar condition. Having a power of attorney for healthcare in place allows the individual’s wife, mother, son, or whomever they appoint to make those medical decisions for them. Without this document in place, a warden or the medical staff of the prison may be the ones to make these decisions for the individual.
  4. Protecting the spouse of the incarcerated with estate planning. It is important to note that if a husband and wife have an arrangement in which the wife designates the husband to make medical decisions for her, but he then goes to prison, matters can become muddled quickly. For this reason, most legal counsel recommends that a document be drawn up and put in place ahead of time that stipulates that while the husband is incarcerated, the wife’s mother or sister or whomever can take over those decisions in his place.

If you or someone you love could possibly be incarcerated, it is vital to begin getting their affairs in order as soon as possible. Equally as important is giving this task to an attorney who intimately understands how to rethink run of the mill estate and financial planning and apply them to more unique circumstances such as incarceration. Look for a lawyer that has experience in this particular area of estate planning for higher confidence in the process.

When an individual is set to go to prison, one of the best gifts they can give the loved ones they leave behind is to have their own and their spouse’s affairs in order before serving their sentence. This helps all parties feel less encumbered by what are already highly emotional and distressful circumstances.

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